Measurement of the intensity of electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum transmitted through a solution or transparent solid. It is used to identify and determine the concentrations of substances that absorb light of a specific wavelength or colour according to Lambert's law, which relates the amount of light absorbed to the distance traveled through the absorbing medium, and Beer's law, relating it to the concentration of absorbing substance in the coloured solution. A photocell is often used to measure the amount of light transmitted through a glass tube containing the solution to be analyzed; the result is compared with results from a similar tube containing solvent alone. Most elements and many compounds, in appropriately treated samples, may be identified by colorimetry or spectrophotometry, a closely related technique.
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Colorimetry or Colourimetry can refer to:
Reflected color can be measured using a spectrophotometer (also called spectroreflectometer or reflectometer), which takes measurements in the visible region (and a little beyond) of a given color sample. If the custom of taking readings at 10 nanometer increments is followed, the visible light range of 400-700nm will yield 31 readings. These readings are typically used to draw the sample's spectral reflectance curve (how much it reflects, as a function of wavelength); the most accurate data that can be provided regarding its characteristics.
The readings by themselves are typically not as useful as their tristimulus values, which can be converted into chromaticity co-ordinates and manipulated through color space transformations. For this purpose, a spectrocolorimeter may be used. A spectrocolorimeter is simply a spectrophotometer that can estimate tristimulus values by numerical integration (of the color matching functions' inner product with the illuminant's spectral power distribution). One benefit of spectrocolorimeters over tristimulus colorimeters is that they do not have optical filters, which are subject to manufacturing variance, and have a fixed spectral transmittance curve—until they age. On the other hand, tristimulus colorimeters are purpose-built, cheaper, and easier to use.
The CIE recommends using measurement intervals under 5nm, even for smooth spectra. Sparser measurements fail to accurately characterize spiky emission spectra, such as that of the red phosphor of a CRT display, depicted aside.
Internally the meter is typically a silicon photodiode tristimulus colorimeter. The correlated color temperature can be calculated from the tristimulus values by first calculating the chromaticity co-ordinates in the CIE 1960 color space, then finding the closest point on the Planckian locus.